Panasonic cameras are excellent for sports photography due to their small sensor, compact size and a huge selection of quality telephoto lenses.
However, sports photography can be a tricky subject to shoot, mostly because of the lenses you need to use.
If you are photographing indoors, you need to freeze the action by selecting a fast shutter speed, but you’re often limited by the low amount of light available. Most lenses don’t have apertures big enough to let in more light so you’re left with raising the ISO speed and this doesn’t always look good on every camera. Your only option would be to get yourself a lens with a bigger aperture, which would drastically change the quality.
For outside sports, it’s a lot easier since the sun provides plenty of light. Shooting with shutter speeds over 1/250 is not a challenge, even if the lens you use has an aperture of f/5.6.
In this guide, we went through all Panasonic lenses and selected the 9 best ones, which is more than enough whether you’re a beginner or a professional. You don’t have to worry about anything or do any more research, the choices here are all you need.
Best Panasonic Wildlife & Birds Lenses:
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What’s Important for Sports Photography?
Here are the 5 most important factors that make a good sports lens. We focused on these points when selecting the lenses for this guide.
Auto Focus – The lens needs to have fast and reliable auto focus. While this also depends on the camera you use, Panasonic’s latest mirrorless models have AF systems that can handle action very well. The majority of lenses we talk about are extremely quick!
Focal Length – Most of the time, sports photography means long telephoto lenses. While this is true in the majority of cases, don’t forget that there are plenty of sports where you as the photographer can be very close to the subject. In such cases, having a 20mm – 60mm lens is the best. For bigger sports, or where you know you won’t be a few feet away from the action, stick to 100mm and higher.
Aperture – This is where it gets tricky. If you’re going to shoot indoors most of the time, you will really want to shoot with f/2.8 aperture. Why? Because to you it may seem like there’s plenty of light, but it’s not the same for your camera. Raising the ISO is a possibility, but this would often have to be above 3,200 and your shots might be too noisy. Outdoors, all Panasonic lenses are big enough, but for indoors you’ll either have to buy a more expensive zoom or raise the ISO. Certain cameras handle this better.
Weight & Size – The large majority of these telephoto lenses can be hand-held for a long time, but the monster zooms such as 100-300 and 100-400 might get you tired quickly. We recommend you to bring a monopod or a tripod. Mirrorless or not, holding a lens for hours will get you tired and result in blurred shots. You can check out our guide on best monopods.
Image Stabilization – Panasonic puts OIS (Optical IS) in certain lenses. This is good to have generally speaking, but it will not freeze a moving subject; OIS works only on static subjects. Still, if you’re going to use the lens for more than sports, consider if this feature is important to you.
Panasoninc Lumix G X 12-35mm f/2.8 II Power
Equivalent to a 24-70mm lens in the 35mm format, the Panasonic Lumix G X 12-35mm f/2.8 II Power is a great all-round zoom covering all the main focal lengths the average photographer will need for general shooting. With a constant aperture of f/2.8 across all zoom settings, this is a lens that is fast enough to satisfy the most demanding shooters, while also being versatile enough to deal with nearly any photographic style or situation. Whether you shoot portraits, landscapes, travel, documentary, sports, or events, if you only have space to pack a single lens in your bag, this will likely be the one you’ll reach for.
The lens is pin sharp at the center, with only slight softness detectable towards the corners. Meanwhile, Panasonic’s nano surface coating keeps flare, ghosting and color aberrations to an absolute minimum. Bokeh appears very pretty, with nice rounded light-circles. With f/2.8, your portraits will definitely stand out.
When it comes to shooting video, image stabilization has been much improved compared with the Mark 1 version of this lens. There’s also a handy switch on the side of the barrel to toggle OIS on or off, allowing you to change modes mid-take.
The 12-35mm f/2.8 is highly portable and reasonably compact, at least when contracted. Aside from the metal mount, the lens is largely made of plastic, so it’s not as rugged as some of Panasonic’s other lenses for the MFT format. However, it is dust and splash proof (weather-proof lenses are great for rainy days and traveling).
Panasonic Leica DG 12-60mm f/2.8-4
If you’re looking for the all-around super zoom, the Panasonic Leica DG 12-60mm f/2.8-4 is a solid workhorse for serious photography at a huge range of focal lengths. It’s got a relatively good aperture range, although this is not something you will use in really low light situations. For this reason it will be of most interest to photographers producing landscapes, architecture, interiors, and even portraits – provided ultra-shallow depth-of-field is not required. For outside sports, it’s perfect, but indoors you will have to raise the ISO a bit.
Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating means that there’s almost no flare whatsoever, at least when shooting stills, and only the subtlest of chromatic aberrations are visible. Sharpness is generally excellent, although there is some detectable fall off at corners – particularly when used wide open at around the 50mm zoom setting. A nine-blade aperture makes for some very nice bokeh, and color rendering is highly attractive.
The exterior, mount, and lens hood are of metal construction, and the overall build inspires confidence. As does the fact that the lens is dust-, splash- and freeze-proof right down to -10c.
On the negative side, the 12-60mm’s widest aperture of f/2.8 is only available when zoomed out to the 12mm setting. Nonetheless, the Leica 12-60mm is faster than Panasonic’s otherwise comparable Lumix 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6. The Leica is also optically superior to the Lumix, however for those concerned about either price, weight, or size, the Lumix offers some advantage in all three areas.
Panasonic Lumix G 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6
Offering a 35mm format equivalent of 24-120mm, the Panasonic Lumix G 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 is a super-wide zoom lens that makes a great all-round tool for daily use. Indeed, other than low-light shooting, the 12-60mm is suitable for almost any genre of photography imaginable. Travel, sports, events, you name it.
Considering its impressive focal range, the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 is surprisingly compact and lightweight. It features a solid outer metal casing, and a metal mount, with the rest of the lens manufactured from high quality plastic. Panasonic has also given the lens a degree of weather sealing, making it a great all-purpose, all-terrain piece of glass. However, if you plan to shot in subzero temperatures, then the Panasonic’s 12-60mm f/2.8 Leica will be a better choice.
The Lumix’s auto focus is excellent and the “manual” focus by wire mechanism is plenty good for stills. However, when it comes to video, the Leica 12-60mm is the superior choice: the Lumix’s focus ring is somewhat uneven in its resistance, making for a jerky ride. Similarly, the Lumix lens does not maintain focus position when zooming in or out, so here again the Leica comes out top.
The lens produces good color and is sufficiently sharp, however in both respects the Leica 12-60mm, f/2.8-4 outperforms the Lumix. While neither lens is super fast, the Leica also wins out here, providing a stop more light. With that said, the Lumix is not as big, pricey or heavy as the Leica – although this difference will only really become noticeable if using a smaller camera body.
Panasonic Lumix G 35-100mm f/2.8 Power OIS
The Panasonic Lumix G 35-100mm f/2.8 Power OIS lens is pro-level telephoto zoom for the MFT format. With a maximum aperture of f/2.8 constant throughout its zoom range, this is a lens that successfully combines, speed, versatility and image quality in one. It is a rugged high-performance lens that is ideal for portraits, sports, wildlife, nature, and even creative landscapes. The field of view is equivalent to 70-200mm in 35mm format.
Sharpness at image center is excellent throughout the zoom range, with an acceptable degree of fall-off towards the corners. Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating also means that the lens exhibits minimal distortion, and chromatic aberrations are pretty much nonexistent.
Auto focus is about as fast as you could ever want – i.e. it’s pretty much instantaneous – and is also totally silent. What’s more, the internally-housed focus mechanism means that the front element doesn’t move as you focus. More unusually though, the lens doesn’t extend as you zoom either, with all movement taking place out of view inside the barrel.
Boasting a splash-, dust-, and freeze-proof metal body, the 35-100mm was designed to withstand the worst of the elements and is very well weather-sealed. Yet despite these rugged credentials, it is surprisingly small and lightweight.
Finally, although zooms are unlikely ever to compete with primes when it comes to maximum apertures, an f/2.8 telephoto is plenty fast enough to blow the background out to a smooth and pleasing blur at any zoom setting. Combined with the onboard optical image stabilization, it will also allow handheld shooting even in relatively low light. For a much cheaper, smaller, but slower alternative, check out the Lumix G 35-100mm below.
Panasonic Lumix G 35-100mm f/4-5.6
Compact and lightweight, the Panasonic Lumix G 35-100mm f/4-5.6 is an affordable and highly portable telephoto zoom lens for the MFT format. Although the lens extends considerably when in use, it packs away absolutely tiny. In fact it’s less than half the size of comparable “pro” level lenses. This makes it a great walk-around telephoto for shooting portraits, sports and travel photos.
Featuring Panasonic’s Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), camera shake becomes a thing of the past. Auto focus is super fast, and the manual focus ring is acceptably smooth.
Comprising of 12 elements in 9 groups, the lens offers seven rounded diaphragm blades for smooth bokeh. Panasonic’s Nano Surface Coating means that shots made using the 35-100 display only very minimal purple fringing and lens distortion, and merely the slightest of vignetting. In fact, optically this lens is almost on a par with the much more expensive Lumix GX 35-100mm f/2.8 “professional” zoom.
Certainly, if you’ll only be using your images online, then there’s no compelling reason to spend the extra money on the faster lens. Indeed, the only real reason to consider the more expensive 35-100mm is its greater low-light capabilities. For some, this will be a deal breaker. It makes a huge difference if shooting indoors, or taking portraits at f/2.8 where the background is beautifully blurred. Anyone else will likely be happy to save themselves the expense.
Panasoninc Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6 Mega OIS
If you are looking for an affordable telephoto zoom for general use, the Panasonic Lumix G 45-150mm f/4-5.6 Mega OIS makes for a highly convincing option. Ultra compact and lightweight, this is a lens you’ll be happy to take anywhere. It will be of particular interest to photographers who regularly shoot nature, wildlife, sports, portraits, and travel photography.
Offering 35mm full-frame equivalent focal range of 90-300mm, this is a versatile zoom that can be used either to blow out the background behind a subject to a soft and non-distracting blur, or alternatively to flatten the perspective of more distant scenes. Seven circular aperture blades make for more pleasing out of focus rendering than with old-style polygonal diaphragms, and so, with a closest focusing distance of 3 ft. you’ll be able to shoot portraits with the subject fully isolated against a sea of swirling bokeh.
Panasonic’s optical image stabilization helps to keep images blur-free, even when shooting on longer settings. Meanwhile AF is fast and accurate – as we’ve come to expect from modern camera lenses. Otherwise, this is an excellent telephoto lens that gets the job done, and at a very accessible price.
However, anyone looking for even more impressive telephoto reach and a greater degree of durability in their lens might want to consider the Panasonic 45-200mm f/4-5.6 we talk about below. Although be warned that the extra length provided by the 45-200mm will cost you more than twice the price of the 45-150mm.
Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS
The Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS lens is a mid-priced zoom for the MFT format, offering the full-frame equivalent of a 90-400mm focal range. This impressive telephoto reach makes it an ideal choice for sports, documentary, wildlife and nature photography.
On the lens barrel itself there’s a switch for manually toggling the OIS function on and off without the need to dig into the menu on your camera. And Panasonic’s Power OIS system works very well, even at the 200mm zoom setting. For moving animals, it won’t be helpful, but as soon as they stop, you’ll appreciate any extra help. Even with a tripod/monopod, you’ll still be tired after shooting for hours, and whenever you’re shooting below 1/250 you have more chances of getting blur.
Smooth aperture changes and silent AF make the lens video compatible, however the focus ring is likely not smooth enough for serious manual pull-focusing. Thankfully though, AF is impressively fast and accurate, even when tracking fast moving subjects. You can definitely count on capturing animals in their action.
The 45-200mm f/4-5.6 costs almost 3x times the price of the somewhat shorter Lumix 45-150mm f/4-5.6 above. However, for the extra money you not only get the full-frame equivalent of an additional 100mm of telephoto action, but also upgraded weather-proofing, so you can take the lens out in all but the worst conditions with total peace of mind. While the lens barrel is manufactured from plastic, it is nonetheless reassuringly well-built, and its mount is of metal construction.
Panasonic Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS II
The Panasonic Lumix G 100-300mm f/4-5.6 Power OIS II lens is a great mid-priced zoom for MFT format cameras. Providing an impressive full-frame focal length equivalent of 200-600mm, this is a versatile lens that will likely cover all your telephoto needs. Permitting you to get distant subjects large in the frame, and defocus backgrounds to a pleasing blur, it’s ideal for nature, wildlife, sports, travel and portrait photography.
Made of lightweight but durable plastic, and fully splash- and dust-proof, this is a sturdy modern weather-proof lens that will withstand the rigors of regular outdoor wear and tear. Although highly compact for a lens offering such a degree of optical magnification, be aware that the front element does extend considerably when in use. AF is excellent, even in dim light.
The lens is overall very sharp, however it will be at its best optically when used on shorter zoom settings. It is not prone to purple fringing or flare and produces extremely attractive out of focus rendering.
The 100-300mm is much cheaper than Panasonic’s Leica-branded 100-400mm alternative. But, unlike the Leica offering, this lens does not come with a tripod collar and lacks the extra telephoto coverage of the more expensive lens. However, given that the Leica has a smaller aperture than the 100-300mm when used on longer zoom settings, and not even necessarily much better optically, the regular Lumix offering will likely satisfy most users.
Panasonic Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Power OIS
Panasonic’s Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Power OIS lens is a beast of precision optical engineering. Offering an astounding full-frame equivalent zoom range of a 200-800mm, and impressive image sharpness, this lens will be a must for many serious photographers of nature, wildlife and sports.
Considering its enormous focal reach, the lens is surprisingly compact. Furthermore, the front element doesn’t extend or rotate when focusing. Only when zooming does the element move forward. The barrel features a switch for toggling between focus-limit settings, and others for selecting either AF or manual focusing, and for OIS. Conveniently, an Integrated rotary tripod mount allows you to rotate the entire lens and camera while it is sitting firmly on the tripod.
Both 100-400mm’s barrel and lens mount are constructed from sturdy metal, and the lens is fully splash- and dust-proof when used with weather-sealed Lumix bodies.
Center image sharpness is excellent between the 100-200 zoom settings, with a slight fall off beyond this point. Very little is detectable in the way of chromatic aberrations or distortion, and flare is well-contained.
As you might expect from a lens that comes with Leica branding and offers such a wide focal range, the 100-400mm f/4-6.3 is not cheap. Beyond this, the primary compromise of such an impressive zoom range is its slow maximum aperture, particularly when used at tele settings. Those looking for a slightly faster but correspondingly shorter option might instead consider the much cheaper Lumix 100-300mm f/4-5.6.